DRL Light On Dash: Everything You Need To Know

Daytime Running Lights, commonly abbreviated as DRLs, are an integral part of your vehicle’s safety system, illuminating automatically when your vehicle is on and moving. However, you may have noticed a DRL indicator on your dashboard, leaving you perplexed about its meaning and significance.

This blog post aims to answer common questions surrounding the DRL light on your dashboard, providing clarity about its implications for your driving experience.

What Does DRL Mean?

DRL is an acronym that stands for Daytime Running Lights. They are a safety feature found in most modern vehicles. DRLs are designed to enhance visibility during daylight hours, even in bright, sunny conditions.

Unlike headlights, which the driver manually controls, DRLs turn on automatically when the vehicle starts and stays on until the vehicle is turned off. They’re typically lower-intensity than regular headlights, providing sufficient visibility to other road users without dazzling them.

2023 Kia Telluride on the road.

Why Did My DRL Light Come On?

Your DRL light comes on for several reasons. Primarily, it indicates that your vehicle’s DRLs are operating correctly, illuminating when the car is running and the regular headlights aren’t activated. However, if the DRL light on your dashboard remains on or starts flashing even when your headlights are activated, this could indicate a fault in the system.

Problems can range from a burned-out bulb, or wiring issues, to more complex problems within the DRL module. If this occurs, it’s advisable to have your vehicle checked by a professional to avoid potential safety issues.

Can You Drive With DRL Light On?

Yes, it is usually safe to continue driving with the DRL light on. When functioning correctly, the DRL light simply indicates that your daytime running lights are on. However, if the DRL light is flashing or remains on after turning on your headlights, it’s a sign of a malfunction in the system.

Although this doesn’t necessarily mean immediate danger, it’s recommended to have your vehicle inspected promptly to ensure your lights are working properly, thereby ensuring your safety and those of other road users.

Does DRL Drain The Battery?

Under normal circumstances, DRLs do not significantly drain your vehicle’s battery. Given their lower intensity compared to regular headlights, the power demand is relatively minimal. However, if a fault exists within the system, like a short circuit, it could potentially drain the battery more quickly.

Also, older batteries may experience more strain from DRLs. Nevertheless, in well-maintained vehicles, the power usage from DRLs shouldn’t be a concern. Still, if you notice any unusual battery behavior, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle checked to rule out any issues related to DRL or other electrical systems.

Can DRL Be Repaired?

Yes, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) can usually be repaired. Here are six common fixes:

1.     Bulb Replacement

If a bulb has burned out, replacing it may solve the problem. Ensure to use the correct bulb as specified in your vehicle’s manual.

Replacement of the wrong bulb with a new one.

2.     Checking Wiring

Faulty or disconnected wiring can also cause DRL issues. If the wiring is loose, corroded, or damaged, it should be replaced or repaired.

3.     Fuse Replacement

DRLs have their own dedicated fuse. If the fuse has blown, the DRLs won’t work correctly, and replacing the fuse may solve the problem.

4.     DRL Module/Relay Repair

The DRL module or relay controls the operation of your DRLs. If it’s malfunctioning, your DRLs might not work correctly. It may need to be replaced or repaired.

5.     Switch Repair

If the DRL switch is faulty, it may fail to control the lights properly. Fixing or replacing the switch may solve the issue.

6.     Software Update

For some newer vehicles, a software update may be required if there’s a glitch in the system controlling the DRLs.

Mechanics with laptop doing car diagnostics at automobile repair.

Are DRL Lights Automatic?

Yes, DRLs are designed to turn on automatically when the vehicle’s engine is running, and the regular headlights are off. Once you start your vehicle, the DRLs should illuminate. When you switch on your headlights, the DRLs usually dim or switch off, depending on the vehicle.

How Long Do Daytime Running Lights Last?

The lifespan of DRLs depends on the type of bulb used. Traditional halogen bulbs typically last anywhere from 500 to 1,000 hours. LED lights, which are becoming more common in newer vehicles, can last over 30,000 hours due to their increased energy efficiency and durability.

What Does DRL Mean On A Toyota Car?

In a Toyota car, DRL stands for Daytime Running Lights. Just like other vehicles, it means that these lights are activated and will illuminate whenever the vehicle’s engine is running. If the DRL indicator light on the dashboard is flashing or remains lit, it may indicate a problem with the system that requires attention.

2023 Toyota Tundra driving on the road with DRL on.

How Do I Turn Off The DRL On My Honda?

Turning off the DRL on a Honda may vary depending on the model. However, typically, you can’t manually turn off DRLs as they’re a safety feature. In some cases, a technician can disable them, but it’s not generally recommended due to safety reasons.

How Do I Turn Off DRL On My Dashboard?

Again, the process of turning off DRLs can depend on the make and model of your car. Typically, DRLs are designed to be on when the vehicle is operating for safety purposes and can’t manually be turned off.

However, some vehicles may have a setting in the vehicle’s control system to disable DRLs, which should be detailed in the car’s owner manual. As a general rule, remember that disabling DRLs may impact the vehicle’s visibility to others and isn’t typically recommended.

Why Are Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) Important For My Vehicle?

Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) are crucial for enhancing the visibility of your vehicle to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians during the day. They help make your vehicle more noticeable in a variety of weather conditions, including rain, fog, and bright sunshine.

Studies have shown that vehicles equipped with DRLs are less likely to be involved in certain types of accidents because they are more easily seen by other road users. This can significantly increase safety, both for you and others sharing the road. Despite their benefits, DRLs use minimal power and won’t significantly impact your vehicle’s fuel efficiency or battery life.

What Should I Do If My DRL Light Is Flashing?

A flashing DRL light typically indicates a malfunction within the DRL system. This could be due to several reasons, including a burned-out bulb, faulty wiring, a bad relay, or a problem with the control module.

It’s important to get your vehicle checked by a professional as soon as possible when you notice this. They can diagnose the issue accurately and implement the necessary repairs or replacements, ensuring the optimal functioning of your DRL system and your vehicle’s overall safety.

Can I Replace The DRL Bulb Myself?

While replacing a DRL bulb may seem like a simple DIY job, it can be more complex depending on your vehicle’s model and the type of DRL system it uses. For some cars, you may need to remove several components to access the DRL bulbs, which can be quite challenging without the right tools and expertise.

It’s always recommended to refer to your vehicle’s manual or consult a professional to avoid damaging any parts of your lighting system. If you do decide to replace the bulb yourself, ensure you’re using the correct bulb type specified for your vehicle.

Do All Countries Require Vehicles To Have DRLs?

The regulations regarding DRLs vary worldwide. In some countries like Canada, Sweden, and Denmark, DRLs are mandatory for all vehicles. However, in other places, the laws may be less stringent.

For instance, in the United States, DRLs are not mandatory, but the benefits they offer are recognized, and most manufacturers include them as standard or optional features in their vehicles. It’s always wise to check the specific laws in your country or region to understand the requirements and standards for vehicle lighting.

Are DRLs The Same As Headlights?

While DRLs and headlights both serve the purpose of lighting up and improving a vehicle’s visibility, they are not the same. DRLs are designed to be on during the day when the headlights are off. They typically emit a lower-intensity light, which is sufficient to increase the visibility of your vehicle during daylight without blinding other drivers.

On the other hand, headlights are manually controlled by the driver and are used during the night or in poor visibility conditions. They provide brighter illumination to light up the road ahead and make the vehicle visible to others.

Modern LED car headlights in dense fog.

Can I Customize My DRLs?

Yes, you can customize your DRLs, but it depends on the specific regulations in your country or region. Many aftermarket options are available, offering various designs and LED colors. However, it’s important to ensure that any modifications meet the safety standards and legal requirements in your area.

Not all modifications are legal or safe, and some could potentially decrease the effectiveness of your DRLs or even dazzle other drivers. Always consult with a professional before making any modifications to your vehicle’s lighting system.

Can I Manually Control My DRLs?

Typically, Daytime Running Lights (DRLs) are designed to operate automatically. When you start your vehicle’s engine, the DRLs should turn on, and they usually stay on until the vehicle is turned off. Some vehicles will automatically dim or turn off the DRLs when you turn on your headlights.

Manual control is usually not provided for DRLs as they are a safety feature intended to be in use whenever the vehicle is operating. However, in certain vehicles, there may be options in the control settings to alter how the DRLs function.

What Is The Cost Of Repairing Or Replacing DRLs?

The cost of repairing or replacing your DRLs depends on the type of issue and the make and model of your vehicle. Simple fixes like replacing a burnt-out bulb or a blown fuse can be relatively inexpensive.

However, if the problem lies with the DRL module or the wiring, the costs can be significantly higher. It’s best to get an estimate from a reputable professional to understand the potential costs involved.

Are DRLs A Standard Feature In All Modern Vehicles?

While not universally standard, DRLs are increasingly common in modern vehicles. Many automobile manufacturers recognize their safety benefits and include them as a standard feature. However, the implementation can vary.

Some vehicles use dedicated DRLs, while others may use a lower-intensity setting of the main headlights or fog lights to serve as DRLs. In regions where DRLs are mandated by law, such as Canada and some European countries, all new vehicles are equipped with them.

2023 Honda Pilot TrailSport close-up photo of the front end.

Can The DRL System Impact My Vehicle’s Battery Life?

DRLs are designed to use a relatively small amount of power, so they should not significantly impact your vehicle’s battery life under normal conditions. They are generally less intense than regular headlights, which also helps minimize power usage.

However, if there is a fault in the system, such as a short circuit, it could potentially drain the battery faster. If you notice any unusual battery behavior, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle checked to rule out issues with the DRL or other electrical systems.

Can DRLs Help In Reducing Accidents?

Yes, DRLs can help reduce accidents. They improve the visibility of your vehicle to other drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, even in daylight conditions. This can make a significant difference in safety, as studies have shown that vehicles equipped with DRLs are less likely to be involved in certain types of daytime accidents.

By making your vehicle more noticeable, DRLs can help others on the road react more promptly to your presence and movements, thereby reducing the chance of collisions.

What Happens If I Continue Driving With A Malfunctioning DRL System?

Continuing to drive with a malfunctioning DRL system may not cause immediate problems, but it’s not recommended. DRLs are safety features designed to make your vehicle more visible to other road users. If they’re not working correctly, it could potentially decrease your vehicle’s visibility, especially in daylight hours, increasing the risk of accidents.

Furthermore, a malfunctioning DRL system might be indicative of other electrical problems in your vehicle. Therefore, it’s advised to get your vehicle inspected and the issue resolved promptly if your DRL indicator light is flashing or remains on after turning on the headlights.


Understanding the role and functionality of the DRL system in your vehicle is crucial, given its significant contributions to safety on the road. A properly functioning DRL system enhances your vehicle’s visibility, potentially reducing the risk of accidents.

While minor issues with your DRLs can be troubleshot, any persistent problems should be addressed by a professional to ensure the optimal performance of your vehicle’s lighting system. Remember, safety should always be the priority when it comes to your vehicle’s features and functions.

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About Matthew Webb

Hi, I am Matthew! I am a dedicated car nerd! During the day, I am a journalist, at night I enjoy working on my 2 project cars. I have been a car nerd all my life, and am excited to share my knowledge with you!